Chicago Blackhawks v Detroit Red Wings

NHL on NBC: Detroit, Chicago jockey for playoff positioning in regular season finale

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It’s always a special contest when the Blackhawks and Red Wings face off — but on Saturday, the game has a little extra spice.

The Wings will host the ‘Hawks at Joe Louis Arena (1:00 p.m ET, NBC) knowing that playoff seeding is on the line. Detroit currently holds the fifth spot in the Western Conference, but Chicago can take it…assuming the ‘Hawks want to, that is.

More, from NHL.com:

Detroit is fifth in the Western Conference and third in the Central Division with 101 points, while the Blackhawks are sixth in the West and fourth in the Central with 99. A regulation win for Chicago would tie them with the Wings in points and catapult them into the fifth slot for the Stanley Cup Playoffs based on tiebreakers — pitting Chicago against Nashville.

Any kind of Detroit win would consign Chicago with the sixth seed, while a Red Wings win plus a regulation loss for Nashville in Colorado would give the Wings home-ice advantage in a first-round series against the Preds. In short, there is still a lot left to play for besides bragging rights in one of the League’s oldest and fiercest rivalries.

The rub for the ‘Hawks? A regulation win against Detroit would be nice, but it puts them up against a tough Nashville team in Round 1 (the Preds went 4-1-1 against the ‘Hawks this year.)

A loss, though…a loss gives Chicago the No. 6 seed and the winner of the Pacific Division (either Phoenix, LA or San Jose.) The ‘Hawks went 1-2-1 against the Coyotes and Kings and 2-2 against the Sharks this season.

As for Saturday’s game — it could very well be decided by who’s not in the lineup. Chicago will be without the services of captain Jonathan Toews for the 21st straight game, along with key regulars Andrew Brunette and Dave Bolland (Steve Mondator is also still shelved.)

Detroit, meanwhile, is slowly getting back to full health. After a season loaded with injuries, they’ll only be without Darren Helm (knee) and Joey MacDonald (back) for the Chicago contest.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.